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Google says its self-driving cars have never caused an accident

Google has revealed its prototype fleet of self-driving cars has been in 11 incidents during testing, but claimed the autonomous autos were not to blame for any of the fender-benders.

Reports on Monday claimed there have been four crashes during the last eight months of testing in California, with two of them coming while the car had control.

Now Google has hit back with some official numbers, clarifying the tally and extent of the incidents and offering a little insight into how far the driverless cars have travelled.

“Over the 6 years since we started the project,” wrote Chris Urmson, the director of Google’s self-driving car program, “we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during those 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving with our safety drivers behind the wheel, and not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.”

Google is believed to be testing a fleet of 48 cars in California right now as it seeks to perfect the tech for wider roll outs.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has records of all four incidences since September, but has not made any further comment on the incidents as the information is confidential.

Read more:
Driverless cars: Everything you need to know

Within a blog post on Medium (via Recode), Urmson played up the advantages of the self-driving tech, once again claiming the cars can outperform humans in terms of road safety.

He added: “In any given daylight moment in America, there are 660,000 people behind the wheel who are checking their devices instead of watching the road. Our safety drivers routinely see people weaving in and out of their lanes; we’ve spotted people reading books, and even one playing a trumpet.

“A self-driving car has people beat on this dimension of road safety. With 360 degree visibility and 100% attention out in all directions at all times; our newest sensors can keep track of other vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians out to a distance of nearly two football fields.”

Do you think Google should disclose the nature of the accidents? Would you trust a self-driving car? Let us know your thoughts below.